Ski report roundup: Big storms dump snow on Argentina, most resorts quiet

Posted By: The Ski Channel on August 25, 2010 2:09 pm

After the dramatic snowfalls of recent weeks around the world, in both the southern and northern hemispheres, the world’s snowy weather seems to have quieted down over the past seven days according to reports. The exception is in Argentina, where the ski resort of Catedral is claiming to have received an incredible 90cm (three feet) of snow today following other big snowfalls a week ago. The snow depth there is currently the deepest in the world at 2.4m (eight feet).

The two open Swiss glacier ski areas of Sass Fee and neighboring Zermatt continue to offer the best conditions in Europe at present. Both received more than a foot of fresh snow a few weeks ago. Snow depths at both remain about 1.2m (four feet) and terrain park features are reportedly in good shape.

There’s no change in Austria where the Kitzsteinhorn’s “temporary closure” due to thin snow cover on the glacier is stretching towards a month. There’s only 7cm of snow reported there at present so it’s not looking promising that it will re-open any time soon. It’s a similar picture on the Dachstein Glacier which has 30cm of snow on the glacier which it describes as “wet.” It only has limited cross country skiing open at present.

On the Molltal glacier in the south of Austria there remains 9.5km of runs open with up to 1.2m (four feet) of snow lying on the ground. Snow depth on the year-round snow sports center at Tux in the Ziller Valley has dropped below a meter for the first time in a long while – it’s at 95cm (just over three feet), but there are still 20km of runs and more than 600m of vertical to enjoy.

Italy’s Val Senales, Cervinia and Passo Stelvio remain open, each with 70-100cm (2.3 to 3.3 feet) of snow. Cervinia, which is in its penultimate week of summer skiing, closing on September 5th, has the best snow after benefitting from the large snowfall that Zermatt received a few weeks ago.

Over in France, cover is patchy at Les 2 Alpes and Tignes, the two open glacier ski areas, both of which close this weekend, although in Tignes’ case, only for three weeks before re-opening for winter 2010-11 in mid-September.

In North America it’s still Timberline on Mt. Hood in Oregon that’s the only ski area open. Officials there are offering two open chairs and a public terrain park, and temperatures are dropping a little as summer draws to a close.

In the southern hemisphere we’re starting to see more spring-like conditions at some resorts while others remain in mid-winter mode.

“We are in a spring skiing freeze/thaw cycle. Off-piste skiing cover is variable,” officials at Chile’s Portillo Resort have indicated in a statement. “The heliskiing is operating as weather permits on corn snow and the snow depth on the Plateau side is 100cm and 50cm on the Juncalillo side.”

This seems to be a pattern being repeated at other Chilean resorts, with Chapa Verde’s base depth now down to 50cm (20 inches) and at Valle Nevado it’s only 40cm, despite more than 3.7m falling so far this winter. Nonetheless, most of the terrain there remains open.

Things are looking different across the Andes in Argentina with Catedral, South America’s biggest ski area, reporting an amazing three-foot (90cm) snowfall today, taking base depths on the mountain to 2.4m (eight feet). There’s a dramatic difference between the top and the bottom of the slopes, however, with lower runs only reporting a 25cm (10-inch) base and 10cm (four inches) of new snow. It’s also looking good, if not quite so spectacular, in Chapelco with a 1.4m (4.6-foot) base. At Argentina’s other big resort, Las Leñas, snow depths on upper slopes are at 95cm (just over three feet).

Conditions are generally good across Australia’s ski areas with most of the major resorts boasting a base depth just in excess of a meter and most receiving at least some fresh snow in the past few days, and that snowfall is ongoing. Mt. Hotham reports the whole mountain is open, with Keogh’s and The Orchard opening last week for the first time this season, followed by Blue Ribbon on Saturday after 17cm (seven inches) of fresh snow fell on Friday night. August snowfalls now measure 143cm (nearly five feet) and it’s been the best August for snowfalls since 2001.

Another large dump of snowflakes is expected to fall throughout this week with up to half a meter predicted.

In New Zealand the big news isn’t so much the snow as the fact that over 300 of the world’s elite junior snow sports athletes from some 30 nations are in Lake Wanaka this week to compete in the inaugural joint FIS Snowboard & Freestyle Junior World Championships, which began last Thursday and continue to next Tuesday. Cardona, where some of the main events are taking place is reporting excellent conditions with temperatures around -3ºC and 90cm (three feet) of snow on upper runs. Virtually everything is open but there’s no fresh snow. SnowPark NZ, the other venue, doesn’t go in to detail but just reports everything open.

On the North Island, Mt. Ruapehu’s two resorts of Turoa and Whakapapa have bases of 115-160cm (approximately four to 5.3 feet) and though they’ve had no new snow they are expecting fresh for the rest of the week.

Over at The Remarkables the snow has just started falling, with a centimeter of fresh in the past 24 hours atop a one-meter base. Mt. Hutt has had the same snowfall but on double the base. Coronet Peak also reports a centimeter of new snow on its 110cm base.

Afriski, the only ski area open in the African country of Lesotho, reports conditions little changed since last week. The resort managed nine hours of snowmaking in the past 24 hours, taking the season-to-date snowmaking hours total tantalizing close to 500, with 485 to date. The ski area has built up a 70cm (2.3-foot) base on its 700m long main run and there’s also a terrain park and beginner’s slope open. The resort has had no natural snowfall reported this winter.